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Enlarged General Council with the Provinces of the Arco Norte (4)

14/11/2008: Mexico

The task undertaken today by the Brothers of the General Council and the Provincial Councils of the Arco Norte centred on animation and the general government of the Institute and particularly on how it concerns this Marist region. Brother Peter Rodney, who facilitated the morning session, began by presenting three reasons which would be helpful in reflecting on the structures of animation and government. Firstly, because the General Council has started the process of preparing its report to the 21st General Chapter. Secondly, because the preparatory Commission of the General Chapter has asked each Provincial Council to reflect and submit a report. And thirdly, the vision of the Enlarged General Councils provides an opportunity for combined reflection shared by the leaders of the region and the leaders of the Institute. With these measures the structures and services created by the General Council have been analyzed in response to the mandates of the Chapter.

References

To help with this reflection, the Brothers have been provided with a report on the structures and activities carried out by the General Council from the start of its mandate until now. To promote communion in the Institute, the General Council has made use of the Circulars, letters and writings of Brother Seán and of the communications of the Councillors who are attached to the Regions of the Institute and who have cooperated with the Administrative Units, with the Regions and with their leaders. Some of the activities carried out by the Councillors during this mandate were: retreats in all of the Administrative Units, two visits to each Administrative Unit, followed by a report, two Enlarged General Councils in each Region, two General Conferences (2005 and 2007), orientation programmes for new Provincials or District Superiors, meetings with the young people in each Region, participation in Provincial Chapters and participation in regional meetings for Provincials. Networks of Brothers and lay people have also been established, for example, the International Network of Marist Universities, regional networks of mission and spirituality, and regional meetings with Provincial Secretaries.

They have promoted the creation and operation of permanent international commissions such as, for example, Patrimony or Finance, or commissions set up for a specific purpose which were dissolved on the completion of their remit, such as the one in charge of writing the document Water from the Rock, or the one that deliberated on the restructuring of the Hermitage. They have also promoted meetings of small groups invited to support the General Council in certain matters: the General House, administration of structures and buildings, evaluation of BIS, evaluation of the General Council itself, etc.

They have also promoted reflection and action on fundamental topics through international meetings: vocations, formation of Brothers and lay Marists, scholastic formators, and the administration of the educational mission. The animation of the Institute has also been carried out through events like the Year of Vocation, the International Mission Assembly, the Year of Spirituality, a discernment plan on the evangelical use of goods and the convocation of the General Chapter. Likewise, the mission of the Institute has expanded through the Mission ad gentes project and the defence and promotion of the rights of children and young people, and solidarity has been promoted within the Institute thanks to the creation of the 20th General Chapter Fund, the Formation Fund of the Institute and the creation of FMSI. The internationality of the Institute has spread thanks to the publications of FMS Message, Marist News and information communicated through the website: www.champagnat.org

Evaluation of animation and government from the point of view of the Region

The Brothers have carried out a list of events or activities which affected or involved the Provinces of this Region in one way or another. On sharing their reflection an initial combination of eighteen different achievements emerged, including the meetings dealing with education, youth, vocational pastoral and solidarity; the meetings concerning the administration of works, in Campinas; formation of lay people and Brothers in Quito or of advisors for fraternities; also the meetings of the Network of spirituality; of formators in Morelia (Mexico); the founding of CIAP; the meetings of the Provincials of Arco Norte; the preparation of young Brothers for perpetual vows; the meetings with the young people; the CIR. It was also been pointed out in that list that meetings of provincial Secretaries and Administrators were convened as were the social works of the region. On the whole one can see a wide spectrum of activities which affect the interests of the Provinces and of the Region in different ways. Some of those activities have been promoted by the General Council and others have been initiated by the Brothers of the region.

With this picture before them, the Brothers have been able to revise the structures that have been created, the style of government, the processes and methods undertaken by the General Administration. The work has been centred in analyzing what has been successful, what needs to be improved and shortcomings in government and animation in relationship to each Province and for this Marist Region.

After some analysis an initial evaluation of the previous list was carried out. There are three types of activity: coordination, formation and precise interests. Some have been organized by the General Administration, and others are the initiative of the Provincials of the Region. They each contribute their grain of sand; on the whole they make vital points and there are positive elements. But there are two basic problems: to initiate and maintain processes, and, to follow the systematic pursuit of the goals, a minimum structure is required to follow them up, independent of the Provincial or of those involved in the commissions. It is obvious that there already exists interest, knowledge and fraternity, but they need a group to encourage and organize them with a long term plan. There is no follow-up or accompaniment to demonstrate the impact in each Province and the historical memory is not retained. There is no permanent regional structure to take charge of these processes. It was also pointed out that the achievements, both those that already exist and the new ones being carried out, have an important financial impact on the Provinces; therefore it is necessary to have a global vision of our finances so that we can carry out the mission.

Summing up future proposals

The afternoon began with work in Provincial Councils, aiming to expand specific proposals for the future of the region. To help towards final agreement it was suggested that these should be proposals relating to areas of animation and government, initial or ongoing formation with Brothers and lay people, mission, laity and vocational pastoral.

Forum

The afternoon session concluded with an open forum which dealt with questions concerning the process of restructuring of the Hermitage. Brother Luis Sobrado García, who is part of the Commission working on this project, summarised the objectives of the project and of the steps that have been taken until now. In turn, Brother Seán, spoke of the economic expenditure and of the financing of the project.

The Brothers were also interested in the Project ad gentes. Brother Luis Sobrado García offered an overview of the current situation regarding this initiative and gave a historical summary and statistics on what has been achieved until now. He regretted that it had not been possible to give more information on this activity, given the need for discretion which it is necessary to maintain concerning the activities being carried out in some countries of Asia.

Other Brothers were interested in the possible impact of the global economic crisis with regard to the economy of the Institute. Brother Maurice Berquet said that it is a difficult question to answer at this time because it has not yet been possible to have a meeting with the Finance Commission, which deals with the concrete statistics. But it will affect the General Administration in the same way as it will affect every single Province, since it was a universal event.

And finally the question was asked if CEPAM could be part of the Hermitage. Brother Luis replied by pointing out that the Hermitage project is one thing and Patrimony another. At this present time there are no plans to include Marist Patrimony Research in the Hermitage project, but that did not exclude the possibility in the future.

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